The Alliance has represented a great many immigrant businesses over the past twenty five years. For much of that time we were the lone voice advocating for the fair treatment of these hard working entrepreneurs. Our activities have run the full gamut-from defending the rights of Dominican supermarket owners in the East Harlem Pathmark controversy, to protecting Pakistani newsstand dealers from extinction and Korean green grocers from a predatory city bureaucracy.
In all of this work we've come to really admire the dedication and entrepreneurial spirit that theses immigrants symbolize. New York is a better city and a richer cultural place as a result of these good folks. That is why we are so outraged and saddened by what took place at Columbia last week. The shouting down of the Minutemen speakers was as anti-democratic an act as we have seen in a long time. The fact that the protestors, now pleading cravenly for amnesty for themselves, claimed to speak on behalf of immigrants made the whole sorry event even worse.
The outrage here is that the immigrants that I know and have come to admire come to this country to embrace the democratic freedoms here. They're generally fleeing from less open societies where speaking one's mind is often dangerous. The shouting down of speakers in the name of immigrant rights is simply unacceptable and is defamatory to the ethos that they ( but certainly not the protestors) represent.
You see the protestors express disdain for ther American dream and the democratic ethic that undrpins it. They believe that it's a sham and some of these disrupters, particularly those whoe ludicrously call themselves socialists, would like nothing better than to see the entire fabric of this culture torn asunder. For these storm troopers to call the Minutemen fascist is a complete joke, but the irony is no doubt lost on them. It always is to the zealot.
The basic point here is that free speech is an absolute and it is not up to a group of intellectual thugs to determine what you or I are allowed to hear. By doing this in the name of immigrants these fools do more harm to the cause of immigration than any Minuteman possibly could.
And just what does their slogan, "No One is Illegal," actually mean? Does it mean that we should allow a totally open border? Does it mean that those of us who want an immigration policy are racist? And what's up with the Arabic on the banner that was unfurled? These fifth columnists might not believe that we live in an age of terror but we certainly do.
Need for Public Hearings
All of which is why we need for the City Council to hold hearings on the Columbia incident. This should be done at the council's committee on immigration and should most certainly include Mr. Gilchrist's Minutemen, who should be invited in to articulate and defend the organization's position.
If the Columbia brain surgeons want to testify and expose their ignorance, than by all means they should be encouraged. Then we can all get a clear idea as to what passes for intellectual rigor up on Morningside Heights.